Jean-Pierre Bemba

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Jean-Pierre Bemba (born 4 November 1962) is one of four vice-presidents in the transitional government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was sworn in on 17 July 2003. Bemba also leads the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), a rebel group turned political party. He received the second highest number of votes in the 2006 presidential election.

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[edit] Background

Bemba is one of the richest men in the Congo, with an estimated fortune of several hundred million dollars. His businesses have included portable radios, aviation and private television stations. His father was a businessman who was successful under former Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and one of his sisters is married to Mobutu's son Nzanga, who was also a candidate in the 2006 presidential elections.<ref>Wagner, Kurt Run-off ballot in the Congo, Asian Tribune, 2006-08-26.</ref>

[edit] Involvement in the Central African Republic

In 2002, President Ange-Félix Patassé of the Central African Republic invited the MLC to come to his country and put down a coup attempt; human rights activists have accused MLC fighters of committing atrocities against hundreds of suspected rebel sympathizers in the course of this conflict. In March 2003, Patassé was ousted, and the government that replaced him pressed charges against Patassé and Bemba in September 2004. International arrest warrants were issued, but because the new government was unable to have him arrested, the matter was referred to the International Criminal Court, whose Prosecutor has yet to decide whether an investigation needs to be opened. <ref> "opiniojuris Kevin Jon Heller: Central African Republic Refers Patasse and Bemba to ICC" </ref>

[edit] Presidential election

Bemba is one of 33 candidates who ran in the Congolese presidential election on 30 July, 2006. His main campaign slogan — "One Hundred Percent Congolese" — was widely perceived as an attack on frontrunner President Joseph Kabila, <ref name="WP"> "Vote Count Continues in Congo Election", Washington Post, 15 August 2006.</ref> who was accused of having a Rwandan mother. However, Bemba was accused in turn of having an Angolan mother. <ref> "DRC election results test", Mail & Guardian, 16 August 2006. </ref>

During the campaign, he denied allegations of cannibalism, after opponents claimed that he had eaten pygmies during fighting in 2002. "These are lies which have come from the highest levels of government...The pygmies are alive and well" he responded. <ref> "Congo candidate calls for calm, denies cannibalism", The Scotsman, 28 July 2006.</ref>

Bemba received substantial support in the western, Lingala-speaking portion of the country, including the capital, Kinshasa.<ref name="Alliances">"Frontrunners need alliances for 2nd round of presidential polls", IRIN, 22 August 2006.</ref> Following the vote there was significant tension as to whether the results would give Kabila a majority of the vote, in which case there would not be a second round against Bemba, who was perceived as Kabila's main opponent.<ref>"Tension ahead of election results", IRIN, 18 August 2006.</ref> However, according to results announced on 20 August, Kabila won 44% of the vote and Bemba won 20%,<ref name="Alliances"/> and therefore the two faced each other in a second round, held on October 29. The electoral commission announced the official results on November 15, naming Kabila the winner with 58.05% of the vote; Bemba's supporters have alleged fraud.<ref>"Kabila named DR Congo poll winner", BBC News, November 15, 2006.</ref>

On November 27, 2006, the Supreme Court of the DRC rejected the fraud charges brought by the Jean Pierre Bemba, and confirmed Kabila as the new elected Congolese President.<ref>"Supreme Court validates Kabila presidential victory", IRIN, November 28, 2006.</ref> A day later, Bemba said that he disagreed with the court's decision, but that "in the greater national interest and to preserve peace and to save the country from chaos and violence", he would participate in the system by leading the opposition.<ref>"Bemba condemns poll ruling but ready to lead opposition", IRIN, November 28, 2006.</ref><ref>"Bemba accepts DR Congo poll loss", BBC News, November 28, 2006.</ref>

[edit] Notes and references

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Jean-Pierre Bemba

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